What sets our community apart is our local army

Mark DeLap
Posted 4/5/23

April is Volunteer month

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What sets our community apart is our local army


In many parts of the world the act of volunteering was done long before a month and a week was set aside to honor those who choose to help out where there is a need.

According to rewardvolunteers.coop, “President George H.W. Bush's vision of 1,000 points of light, which he shared in his 1989 inaugural address, helped mobilize volunteers across the country. He founded Points of Light, the world's largest organization dedicated to volunteer service, with a mission to encourage millions of people to take action and change the world.

In the United States, April is National Volunteer Month—a month dedicated to recognizing the importance of volunteering and honoring the significant contributions volunteers make by generously donating their time and talents to worthy causes.”

In addition to a month set aside for volunteers, a designated week each year has been officially celebrated since 1974. This year, the week spans from April 17-23.

It’s not an easy task in this day and age with all the hectic schedules and voices calling us from a thousand directions, to be a volunteer. It seems, though that in Wyoming, it may be in the genes or how our children are brought up or because there is such a great reward in reaching out to one another in a state that has a population so sparsely separated.

From the parents who umpire in Little League to the “chain gang” in football to the many volunteer coaches and mentors and event helpers that go on here, it’s a beautiful thing to see.

A few weeks ago, reflecting on other small towns I’ve been associated with, I was shocked to come here and find things like holiday parades, winter carnivals and events in all five of our Platte County towns all going on at the same time.

Last summer I remember a day when four different events had to be scheduled on the same day to fit it all in. And the glue that holds it together and brings it about are the volunteers.

A shoutout today goes to those who work tirelessly to make sure the populous of our area has an event to attend. A break from “business as usual” and helps to make our festivities, something we all look forward to all year around.

This last week there were two huge track meets at Wheatland. The volunteers and staff it takes to make this happen is overwhelming, but our Wheatland coaches along with their army of people willing to donate a day in “questionable” weather were phenomenal to say the least.

There were 24 teams at the Wheatland High School Invite which was a record number of teams participating in a Wheatland track meet. There were 32 busses. Two days later in 50 mph gusting winds and freezing temperatures, the Wheatland Middle School Invite hosted 11 teams.

People here are so willing to give – and that is the strength and foundation of who we are. It’s a humbling thing to be a part of it.

I also must send out a reminder that there are still many organizations that are seeking volunteer help in our counties. From the Salvation Army to the Guernsey Volunteer Fire Department who has seen a serious decline in volunteers for that much needed area. It is a great example of volunteers who not only help out to entertain, but also volunteers to help keep us safe. I know that our fire chiefs in the county are all looking for some good people right now.

It is so easy to become inundated with the worries of the world as we are no longer on the brink of war, but countries are actually fighting for their lives. Each day, it seems, there is yet another tragedy that we are trying to digest and put behind us. From the bombings to the racial tensions to the political wars, not to mention the personal and family challenges of every day survival.

From the holy jihads to the “holy cow” of life, we are living in altogether overwhelming times.

Some days it feels as if the waitress of the universe is pouring scalding coffee and not being very attentive. At any moment it’s as if the cup will overflow and more than it can hold will be dropped into life’s lap.

And summer is already making plans to wow us in 2023. Summer 2023. Is it that close already?

Long ago, in the brutal heat of summer one of the greatest ideas in the history of man was conceived. A time and a place to “get away.” A break that would occur after the sweat has dried from the rigors of tilling the ground, planting the seed and weeding the young garden, and somewhere before the crisp, cracking whip of autumn winds hurry us along to get the harvest in the barn before the snow flies.

Here in the middle. A break.  A time to put the worries on the back burner, put the bills in the drawer, turn off CNN and FOX and head toward the oasis of summer. The unsung heroes of 2023 that won’t be remembered in books or newspapers or in speeches are the many organizers, the workers, the volunteers who come together weeks in advance and are already now this week seated around round tables learning how to slay the boredom of the day. They wait upon us through the flurry of activity and stick around to “do the dishes” after we’ve all eaten our fill of the event’s spectaculars.

From the one who sits in the sweltering barn, waiting to clean up what the cows don’t digest to the one who looks over the three-hour line of people waiting to get a 30 second ride on the “tilta-nausious,” or homemade food for the Veterans picnic. From the organizer who takes that first step to venue to the gatekeepers, the bookkeepers, the attendants, the cleaning crews and the person who locks the final gate when everyone has gone home.

We salute you. We thank you. We praise you for helping us take a break from the insanity of the world, if only for a moment. Your moment in time brings a refreshing to the soul of the troubled and the inundated. Your kindness, no matter how small and unnoticed, is appreciated. And in some cases, your willingness to keep us safe is simply humbling. 

There is an old principle that talks about one who sows a seed and reaps a harvest. You have learned to sow seeds of joy into the lives of those you don’t know. You have blessed yourself with the greater gift of giving yourself away. Truly, your harvest is coming.